PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The mayor of Philadelphia on Sunday ordered flags flown at half-staff and called for prayers for the family and colleagues of a veteran fire captain killed when a roof collapsed beneath him as he battled a blaze, the third city firefighter killed in the line of duty in a year.
Capt. Michael Goodwin, 53, plunged onto the second-floor roof of the three-story building in the Fabric Row section during Saturday night's blaze. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Fellow firefighter Andrew Godlewski, 28, burned on his hands while trying to rescue Goodwin, was discharged Sunday from a hospital, officials said.
"We must never forget the grave risks that these heroic public servants take every day at a moment's notice on behalf of us all," Mayor Michael Nutter said in a statement Sunday.
At an emotional news conference late Saturday, Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers called Goodwin, a 29-year veteran, "a really good person."
"He was the kind of guy who looked out for his folks," he said. "A ladder man. A firefighter's firefighter."
Goodwin is survived by a wife, two grown children and three siblings, one of whom is a police officer, he said.
Police officers and fellow firefighters saluted Goodwin's body, draped in an American flag, as it was carried to a hospital and, later, to a funeral home.
The loss came as the fire department prepared to mark a year since an April 9 blaze at a warehouse that killed Capt. Robert Neary, 59, and Daniel Sweeney, 25. They also died in a collapse, which came as they inspected an adjacent building.
"We have a department that is wounded," Ayers said. "We have scars that are fresh, and indeed they have now been reopened."
Nutter ordered flags flown at half-staff at all city buildings for the next 30 days in Goodwin's honor, officials said.
At Goodwin's fire station deep in south Philadelphia, bouquets were clustered on and around a wooden bench along with a large toy fire truck and ladder.
The American Red Cross of southeastern Pennsylvania said 17 residents were displaced by the blaze, and three of them needed financial help with hotels, food and clothing.
At the scene Sunday afternoon, a fire hose planted in the middle of the street sprayed a jet of water onto the remains of the building, which had collapsed into a pile that stretched over the sidewalk in between two other three-story row homes. Meals and counseling were being provided for grieving firefighters, the Red Cross said.
The blaze appeared to have started in a fabric store downstairs before spreading to upstairs apartments and a neighboring boutique, the store's owner said. The proprietors of both stores told The Philadelphia Inquirer that everyone in both buildings at the time of the fire managed to escape.
The fire's cause wasn't immediately known, but Bruce Blumenthal, the owner of Jack B. Fabrics, said he believes it started in a wall and may have been electrical in nature. Blumenthal said he smelled smoke coming from the basement at around 5 p.m. and found a box of collars and cuffs on fire. He tried to put the flames out with an extinguisher to no avail, he said.